Hello, everyone! Today, we will delve into a fascinating topic: the Internet Computer Protocol (ICP). This might seem a bit unusual for those familiar with my usual focus on SSI. Still, as we discussed last time about seedless wallets, we discovered the need for a blockchain capable of running smart contracts. This is where ICP comes into play.
The first blockchain that was able to run smart contracts was Ethereum. However, using Ethereum means users have to pay, sometimes up to $50 per transaction, which is quite steep for a technology that doesn’t yet have widespread adoption. This is where the Internet Computer Protocol presents an intriguing alternative.
Home | Internet Computer
World Computer blockchain that reimagines the internet as an infinite smart contract platform
When I first looked into ICP a few years ago, it was just starting out. The team behind it positioned ICP as a replacement for traditional cloud providers, advertising it as a distributed computation engine and a fog computing engine. Fast forward to today, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it has evolved into a full-blown blockchain. Now, it positions itself as a third-wave blockchain solution with many interesting properties.
One of the most appealing aspects of ICP is its reverse gas model. In this model, users don’t pay for transactions; instead, the owner of the canister (the equivalent of a smart contract in ICP) pays. This model is quite attractive as it drives adoption. Moreover, the cost is extremely affordable. You only need a few dollars to run an application for a month, and five dollars can store one gigabyte of data for several months.
ICP has learned from Ethereum’s mistakes and promises speed. The canister, essentially WebAssembly, is built as an actor system computation model. This means that your canister can exchange messages without intermediaries, forming a distributed network of smart contracts that can communicate with each other at a low cost.
Another exciting feature of ICP is its native integration with Bitcoin. The network can lock Bitcoin inside itself and facilitate cheap microtransactions. Currently, the network has locked around 120 Bitcoins inside the Internet Computer. The team is also working on locking Ether on the Internet Computer, which would allow for faster and cheaper microtransactions.
In conclusion, ICP is a player in the existing blockchain ecosystem and a potential cross-blockchain platform that could facilitate asset exchange. It’s a promising development in the DeFi space, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.
The ICP network is formed by clusters or subnets of Internet computers that run on the same runtime. They have local consensus with each other and can run multiple programs in parallel, making them much more scalable. They reach consensus when needed, making the system faster and more scalable than Ethereum.
One of the most impressive features of the canisters in ICP is that they don’t need an oracle. They can make HTTP calls, interact with the Bitcoin network, and perform non-linear transaction tasks. This opens up a world of possibilities and powerful features.
I’m particularly excited about the announcement that it’s possible not just to store data in a canister, but also to encrypt data in a canister. This means you could build a data network that doesn’t have access to the data; only the players and owners of the network do. This privacy-preserving feature could allow us to build VDM-compatible things as smart contracts or a privacy-preserving layer as a smart contract. This is a mind-blowing development, and I’m eager to invest more in the network and learn more about it.
The governance of the ICP network is another protocol that sits on the same infrastructure. It’s like a smart contract managing a network of smart contracts, a mind-boggling idea. The computation model as an actor model with message-passing interfaces is innovative, and I highly recommend reading the white paper for more insights.
Subnets in the ICP network can communicate with each other, and they have a special keychain encryption schema based on threshold signatures. This allows cross-networks to collaborate and work together. There’s a lot to discover and think about with ICP.
ICP also has an incubation program and a community program. They’re investing a lot of money in startups and are building a robust ecosystem. However, there are a few concerns. You can’t just spin up a node; you need to contact them to be a node provider. It seems they require special hardware to run a node, and the code is not open. This raises questions about how they can prove that it’s not just another centralized blockchain.
Despite these concerns, the concept of canisters that combine data and computation and offer super cheap storage is mind-blowing. I’m excited to build some serious wallets on these canister smart contracts. If you have experience with ICP or want to collaborate, feel free to reach out.